Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Single Grain is Sufficient

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Rabbi Chiya bar Avin inquired of Rav Huna (Kiddushin 58) : Is the “benefit of gratitude” regarded as money or not?

The Gemora comments: Let us say that this is a matter of a Tannaic dispute, for we learned in a braisa: If one steals the tevel (untithed produce) of his fellow, he is obligated to pay him for the value of the entire tevel (including the terumah and ma’aser that is mixed in, according to its value to him based upon his ability to choose who he wants to give them to). Rabbi Yosi the son of Rabbi Yehudah says: He is only obligated to pay him for the value of the chulin. It must be that Rebbe holds that the ability to choose who to give something to has a monetary value, while Rabbi Yosi holds it does not.

The Gemora rejects this, and gives an alternate explanation to their argument. Everyone holds that the matanos (gift portions for the Kohen) that were not yet separated are considered as if they were separated, and the “benefit of gratitude” is not regarded as money, and the dispute is regarding Shmuel’s ruling, for Shmuel said: One grain of wheat can exempt an entire pile (and there would be no need to separate any more terumah). Rebbe holds of Shmuel’s ruling (and the thief would be required to pay the full value, for the owner could have exempted himself with one grain of wheat), and Rabbi Yosi the son of Rabbi Yehudah does not.

The Acharonim ask that Shmuel is only discussing the Biblical requirement, but the Chachamim instituted that one must give at least one sixtieth of his produce to the Kohen as terumah! If so, the thief should be exempt from paying the value of terumah that he is Rabbinically required to give!?

The Oneg Yom Tov answers based on the Tosfos Ri”d, who says that even Rabbinically speaking, one grain of wheat can exempt an entire pile from the prohibition of tevel. The Chachamim instituted that there is a mitzvah of giving to the Kohen. This, however, the owner could claim that he would not have given, and the thief would therefore be required to pay the entire amount.

The Mishnah Lamelech disagrees and holds that if one does not give at least one-sixtieth to the Kohen, it is Rabbinically regarded as tevel. Accordingly, the thief should not be required to pay the entire amount!?